Foolproof Board Joining
For a recent project I had to round the end of a l-&in. dia. dowel, and since I don't have a lathe I decided to use my router. First, I drilled a I-'/i-in. hole in a piece of plywood, and sawed a slot from the edge of the plywood through to the other side of the hole. In this way, when I put the plywood in a vise the hole would close slightly and grip the dowel. Next. I made a support plate for the router and drilled a 4-in. hole in the middle with a fly-cutter.
I then mounted a carbide-tipped round-over bit in my router. The bit was fitted with a pilot bearing the same radius as the rod—ft in. With the dowel locked in the plywood and the support plate clamped on top, I rounded the dowel in three or four passes, lowering the router bit a fraction each time, and moving it always against the direction of cut.
The first step when joining a number of boards for a tabletop is to run the edges over a jointer so they're flat and square. Heforc doing so I always check that the jointer fence is dead square to the table. But even so, the edges sometimes end up a fraction off, leaving gaps in my joints. I recently discov-
ered I can compensate for slight errors in the fence setting by alternating the boards as I feed them through the machine. I send the first board through with the good face against the fence, the next with the good face away from the fence. In this way any small errors cancel each other out instead of adding up.
Ann Arlx>r, MI
I've used this jig to rout curves with radii as small as 10 in. and as long as 14 ft. when making a curved door header. I can adjust the radius with great accuracy by loosening the clamp and sliding the pivot block in its slot.
Larrv Humes Bellingkam, \VA
I have a number of Japanese saws that I use frequently because they are elegant tools and I enjoy seeing them. I used to put them away in their cardboard sleeves after each use but then I had a better idea. I screwed a row of magnetic door catches to the wall up above my bench. Now when I'm done sawing, I can just reach up. touch the blade to the magnet and the saw clicks into place.
Ann Souzamoto San Francisco, CA
Anyone working with laminates knows how annoying it is to discover a lump under the surface. I use an old hacksawr blade as a "bump extractor." Here's how it works: I smooth out the hacksaw teeth on a grinder and then grind a hook at one end of the blade as shown. If a lump shows up. I heat the end of the blade with torch, slip it in between the laminate and the substrate, and grab the alien particle. It works every time.
Brian Gillespie Newfoundland, NJ
I recently learned that cornstarch makes an excellent lubricant. I keep some near the tablesaw in a shaker with a perforated lid. Now and then. I shake it over the table and fence, and voila!—the heaviest, roughest boards glide smoothly across the surface.
Margaret Scally Allntquerquc, NM
The quickest way I know to set the height of a tablesaw (or router) is with gauge blocks. I made this one from a 3-in. length of 2 x 4 cut to the settings I most frequently use. If you need more settings use another block. You can use this gauge block equally well for setting the fence to the saw blade.
LT. Murpliv Oat Ridge, TN
Sawbase fits Ii routed groove
Knou a bener way ot dninji something? IX*-Mgned a dever jig? Send your wcxxlworking tips. along wiih a skeich or a snapshot to: •Tech Tips." Amijikan Wcx>i>wokkw, 33 E-MinorSu Eminaus. PA 1809«. We ll pay ymi $50 if wc publish your tip.
Vacuum Bagging on the Cheap
No need to blow your bait and beer money on a $400 vacuum pump. For small projects—veneering jewelry boxes, for example—I use a Ziploc freezer bag attached to a hand-operated vacuum pump. These simple pumps, (Mityvac is one brand) are made to bleed brake systems,' cost around $30 and are available in most automotive parts stores. To make a leak-proof seal where the tube enters the bag, snip one comcr off, insert the tube and lay a piece of duct tape underneath it, sticky side up. Put another piece on top and firmly flatten everything out.
Michael Cliilquisl Pittsburgh, PA
Sawbase fits Ii routed groove
When gluing up a tablctop I've always put 'A-in. blocks under the pipe clamps. This both protects the surface and centers the pressure along the edge of the board. But sometimes the blocks stick and take a piece of the table with them when I pry them loose. To avoid this, I now use blocks made of Plcxiglas or pre-finished plywood paneling.
Ever tried drawing a fair curve with a sprung batten and ended up holding the pencil with your teeth? Next time, try compressing the batten with a pipe or bar clamp. Increase the pressure, and the curvature becomes sharper. When it has the right curve, lav the batten on the paper or project Now you can draw the line with a hand to spare.
Alison Wealherly Berkeley, CA
This is a useful jig for anyone who docs a lot of crosscutting of rough stock but doesn't own a radial arm or cut-off saw. I find it especially handy not to have to mount the skilsaw—it just drops into the wood guides—so it is always free for other uses. For my purposes a 24-in. x 48-in. base was convenient, but the dimensions can van* to suit individual needs.
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